William Curl has agreed to spend the next 37 years in prison under a special plea agreement where he acknowledged that he could be convicted of murdering Northern Illinois University freshman Antinette "Toni" Keller, even though he maintains he is innocent.
Curl, DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Richard Schmack and DeKalb County Public Defender Tom McCulloch conferred with Judge Robbin Stuckert on Tuesday to make the arrangements, which were finalized this morning.
Curl will be required to serve the entire 37 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, with no credit for good behavior and no possibility of parole. Curl will turn 37 in August. He will receive credit for time served in jail to date.
State’s Attorney Richard Schmack says justice was served:
"He’ll come out of prison as a man who served 37 years for committing a crime. He’ll know that the system does not let people get away with that."
Keller's family was not present at today's proceedings. A statement from Keller's grandmother was read in court.
A Facebook page in support of Keller has a statement from Keller's mother.
Clay Campbell, the former State’s Attorney who filed the original charges says Curl was let off easy:
"I think anytime a college freshman, a beautiful girl like Antinette Keller, is raped, murdered, and incinerated, that has to be a crime punishable by as much time as law allows."
Curl is accused of murdering Keller, an art student, in 2010. Her burned remains were found in a local park days after she went missing. Curl's trial has been delayed several times. At one point, the trial was delayed due to issues relating to Curl's hearing problems. The trial was scheduled for April 11.
On Tuesday, lawyers met behind closed doors to discuss the case. But before that, William Curl appeared in court in his orange jumpsuit and newly fitted hearing aids to give his consent for the meeting. If convicted, Curl faced up to 60 years in prison.
Narrowly missing Curl's appearance were Toni's parents. They drove to Sycamore from Plainfield on a news tip that an agreement was coming. They did not stay long, when they realized a plea agreement was not going to be announced until Wednesday.
Curl's trial was expected to be a major test of the county's new "cameras in the court" policy.
Timeline of Curl Case
October 14, 2010 - Last time Keller was seen
October 15, 2010 - Keller is reported missing
October 23, 2010 - DeKalb's police chief announces unidentified remains found in Prairie Park
(Police later reveal the remains were found Oct. 16)
October 26, 2010 - DeKalb resident William Curl is arrested by U.S. Marshals in Louisiana
January 6, 2011 - DNA evidence confirms remains are Keller's
January 31, 2011 - Curl is indicted in murder of Keller
February 22, 2011 - William Curl pleads not guilty to all counts of first degree murder
March 9, 2011- Illinois Governor Pat Quinn abolishes death penalty in Illinois
June 29, 2012 - DeKalb County Public Defender Regina Harris resigns, Curl is re-assigned to Tom McCulloch
December 3, 2012- Curl trial scheduled to begin, it is re-scheduled to Jan. 14
January 14, 2013 - Curl trial delayed again due to issues related to Curl's hearing
April 2, 2013 - Curl agrees to spend 37 years in prison.